...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


time to take the chicks outside... and an easy way to build chicken perches!

Chicken Update: 

We moved "The Littles" outside! 
It seemed like it was about the right time for them to head outside...
They're more feather than fluff, 
and it was getting awfully boring in the indoor brooder.
(Not to mention that our house was getting really dusty!)

Here they are trying to take dirt baths by the strawberry patch:
Silly littles, that's mulch!  Not quite right for a dirt bath.
It's always initially so scary to put 
totally vulnerable creatures out in the elements.
We fret and we fret.
What if it rains?  Will they know to go in?
What if our fence isn't as secure as we thought?
What if, what if, what if?

We're so glad we transitioned them...
It was time.
It's a whole new world of interest for them.
And it's amazing how strong their instincts are,
even with no chicken mother to teach them how to be a chicken.
They are scratching, pecking, finding worms and snails and bugs,
they're flapping their wings and getting stronger every minute!
Emmaline, who hadn't been doing so well, perked right up 
with the fresh air and sunshine
(and vitamin water and homeopathic remedies!)
and now she is trying to be the boss of everyone again!

We had to get tinkering to make things work for them out there.
Our main chicken coop is out of the question for now.
The big girls (3 years old), and the medium girls (3 months old) 
would not take kindly to them.  
That whole pecking order business is brutal.

The Littles need a chance to develop more,
and we don't want to worry about their safety 
or their ability to freely access food (i.e. no bullying).

When they're big enough, probably around Thanksgiving,
we'll be trying to do the grand introduction.
(So, stay tuned this fall for that fiasco!!!)

But where oh where to put The Littles
if they can't go in the big coop?

We have a second coop we got 
as a back-up for various needs that could arise:
- outdoor brooder
- infirmary for a sick hen
- old lady coop for hens who belong to AARC
(American Association of Retired Chickens) 
AND we also thought it could be 
a half-way house for hand-raised chicks,
so they have a safe haven (fenced off, but within eyesight)
of the other chickens
so they can all get kind of used to each other.

We got that coop on Craigslist and it has some issues.
Gaps where it just isn't safe.
No cross-breeze ventilation.
Steps that are way too steep.
 So, THAT coop is still sitting around
waiting for our handy friend Boz to come and make it right.

 Oy vay.

In the meantime, we needed a coop that would work,
and we needed it pronto.
So, yes, you counted correctly.  
Now we have THREE coops.
One big and two little.

And the easiest place to put this new little coop 
was in a completely separate area in our fenced garden,
close to the house so we can do quick visual checks to see what they're up to,
and anyway it needs to be close to another electrical outlet,
because we needed to be able to run an extension cord 
so they can still have their "mother" heater 
to go under at night on some of these cooler nights
(yep, 50 degree nights in August, more global weirding...)

Here's "mother"
all plugged in and ready to keep them warm if we have a chilly night
or simply for a sense of safety and security, if they're not quite ready to roost at night yet.

 And here's one of our fenced vegetable gardens
where we decided to put the Littles and their little coop for now:

Luckily our local Agway had a coop for $200.
Only coop kit in town.
It's made out of cheap wood.  
And it was made in China.
But hey, it's really cute, like a little dollhouse!
And it does the job.  

It's surprisingly well thought out in design, 
minus their stupid square perches inside.
Who wants to perch on a square stick?!

Would you want to swing a square bat?

Oh yeah, and the ridiculous square perches 
are only 1" off the floor.  
What's the point in perching if you can't be up high?
I guess if you were a chicken with a fear of heights...?!

So, we had to make some adjustments, 
but nothing even I couldn't handle...
 even with my refusal 
to use any power tools that I deem "scary"
or limb and digit-threatening.

That leaves me with a cordless drill, a jig saw, and an old fashioned hand saw.

 In our 3 years of being chicken mammas, 
we've learned a thing or two about making cheap, fast, easy perches.

All you need are some old tomato stakes (or wooden dowels, or tree branches) . 
Some nails or screws
a mallet
a drill
and maybe some zip ties

It's super easy.
You just cut your tomato stakes to the height you want your perch 
(plus extra for the part that goes in the ground)
and hammer them in with the mallet.
Then drill some pilot holes through your dowels or tree branches and 
secure them with screws or nails.
If it's a little wobbly, you can also tighten it up with a zip tie.
We use zip ties for almost every project,
because they help fills the gaps for our complete lack of skills.
I decided to make a high and a low one here.
It would be ideal to have high and low be on separate stakes,
similar to our chicken jungle gym in the big chicken yard...
but we have a very small space to work with in the attached run,
so this will have to do for now.

The Littles give it their seal of approval:


 Goldie the gold-laced wyandotte and
Betty White, the white plymouth rock

 Wellie the Wellsummer and
Emmaline the Easter Egger.

 Wellie and Emmaline 
trying to see who can do a better dismount!

 I also took some tree branches
and made little perches in the corners of the fence for them.

When they're not in the coop, they're so busy foraging 
that I'm not even sure they've noticed these corner perches yet.

Maybe with time they'll use them, if not
no biggie!


August Time

 It's August?

Say what?

How on Earth did that happen? 

Well, Summer...
Can I talk to your supervisor please?
Like the Season Manager?  Or, the Calendar?
Yeah, let me talk to the them.

  Because this is seriously messed up.

The other seasons get so much more of the calendar.
What is up with that?

It didn't really hit me
until today when my friend razzed me
about it being August
and not having written a blog post yet.


Oh my.
It really is August, isn't it?

Silly me.
I had been pretending all along that time was standing still,
which is basically how I live in July.


Summer is flying by faster than ever
and it could break my heart right open if I let it.


Despite my best denial mechanisms,
there are signs all around me
that summer is chugging along at a rapid pace
not listening at all to my protestations.


The goldenrod is in bloom.
Loosestrife, too.

 The anemones are budding up and getting ready for their show.

Brown-eyed Susans abound.

Blueberries are at the market.

All beautiful in their own right,
but definitely indicators that summer
is going to be over before we know it.


Let's take a deep breath, shall we? 

Instead of being in
Oh-No-It's-Almost-Over Mode
I'm going to really live into my
Yippee!  It's STILL SUMMER! attitude
right on up until Labor Day.

(Actually, I am such a stalwart of summer
and so good at ignoring the realities around me if I don't like them,
that anyone who knows me also knows
that I am fairly adept at continuing to pretend "the end of summer"
isn't happening
 well on into September, even after school resumes.
In fact, it's usually October before I give up...!)


Yes, summer is ever so fleeting.
But that makes it all the more golden, doesn't it?

 Maybe one day we'll get to live
in an infinite summer,
or at least an infinite stream of deliciousness of some sort.

Don't think about how fleeting it is.

Just roll around in it.
 And eat it.
  Drink it up.


So, that begs the question...
What to do with this precious August time?

How about as little as possible for a change?!

Let's do it.

The very little.
The almost nothing.
And by almost nothing I mean
very few chores, projects, and things that tie up time
or take you away from what you would rather be doing,
Do lots and lots of what you would rather be doing.

As much as you can!
Just do what makes you feel free,
what makes you feel happy
and satisfied. 

Basically, for me, I give myself permission
to reverse the chores to fun ratio.

So, let the business of living
be what you want to do,
not what you think "has" to be done.

Very few things actually "have" to be done.

 But if you're the type of person who needs things to be "just so,"
(myself included)
try to do just the necessary maintenance to keep things okay. 
Let things go, just for August.

August only comes around once a year, after all.

And if you really need to do those chores for your psyche,
do them with renewed pleasure
because the results they bring you must be
as important as a gorgeous, perfect August day.


All of these whole wonderful days! 

I feel better already.


"August time" is a  a way of being, really.
A way of seeing.

August time is dream time.
It's life as if it was a dream,
and it's the stuff I dream about all the rest of the year long.

In August time,
life feels slow and languid
 even though the clock is ticking
 (ssshhh, forget about that!)

Focus not on the dwindling,
but on the golden nature of these days.


This is how I do August time:  

For starters, I believe that August is
the absolute juiciest month of the summer,
and it is not to be squandered with things
that you could do any other month of the year.

(To squander August would be absolute sacrilege!)

I no longer care if the gardens get weeded or 
about the chipping paint
or the million other projects that could be done,
that I would like to get done...

Because when I see
that the golden elixir of summer has an expiration date,
I get down to the business of just reveling in it. 

To relish something with the knowledge it's coming to an end...
that seems to be a lesson I learn repeatedly in my life,
whether it's with loved ones or the seasons.

Even if I didn't get to do
and cannot possibly do
some of the things I had wanted to do this summer.

Even if I barely left the gardens
or did anything that interesting
that I could tell people
when they ask me how my summer was.

Even if no matter what,
life is still always work,
and there are chores that simply can't be avoided.
For me,
August is caring about other things more,
and making as much room for that as much as possible.

Not "What can I get done?"  
More like,
"What can I experience?"

Caring about the quality of the breeze, and the angle of sunlight
and how it makes me feel.

I love putting on my August-colored glasses.
And I'm grateful to my friend for the wake-up call today.
 Now, I can just see the beauty of the garden
and overlook the weeds!

August is really about whatever floats your boat.
It's about dropping everything to lie in the sun.

Doing a spontaneous ice cream run at night.
Having a picnic for two out in our yard. 

 It's about 
the luxuriating.
the chaise lounging.
the hammocking.
 the garden strolling.
the dancing in the kitchen.
 the yawning and stretching because you fell asleep with a book
over your face in the sun.

August is being a little decadent, and a little lazy.
For me it's even eating a slice of blueberry pie for breakfast with my hands
before I put on my garden boots.

August is honeybees stumbling off of flowers,
so laden with pollen that they fall and stumble a bit,
having to readjust to the new weight of their golden treasure.

So, go.
  Get out there.
Dive into your August time.

Collect all the golden moments
 your wings can carry.